Global meet on jumbos (India)


The Telegraph

Date Published
Guwahati, Nov. 6: A two-day international conference, beginning here today, stressed on conservation of elephants in India, Bhutan and Myanmar.
The conference on Securing Habitats — Diffusing Conflicts in Bhutan-India-Myanmar, organised by the Balipara Foundation, aims to chalk out a roadmap to protect the elephant, which was declared a national heritage animal in 2010 to give it the same importance as the tiger.
Speaking on Elephant Conservation in India: Policy and Institutional Issues, Jagdish Kishwan, former additional director-general (wildlife) of the ministry of environment and forests and current chief adviser to the Wildlife Trust of India, said he believed the Centre had not done enough to protect the elephant.
“We have not done enough in giving additional protection and welfare to the elephant despite declaring it a national heritage animal,” he said.
“Forty per cent of elephant reserves and no elephant corridor in the country has legal protection,” he added.
Sources said the issue had not been resolved despite the ministry of environment and forests working out a process to provide legal status to elephant reserves and corridors.
Such a step would definitely help the Northeast as it has the largest presence of elephant corridors in the country and has also suffered a lot from destruction of habitat.
The Northeast has 58 elephant corridors (35 per cent of the country’s corridors) and 9,305 to 9,355 elephants.
Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India also said many elephant reserves still did not have legal protection. “New transmission and railway lines should not go through elephant habitats,” she said.
Ajay Desai, co-chair of Asian Elephant Specialist Group under IUCN, said there was no scientific management of problems concerning elephants. On the Northeast, he said there was a need to focus on securing elephant habitats.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi also said there was an urgent need to resolve man-elephant conflict in a scientific manner.
Khyne U. Mar, known as the “elephant lady” of Myanmar, spoke on the need to protect Asian elephants.
Raman Sukumar, an Indian ecologist known for his work on the ecology of the Asian elephant and wildlife-human conflict, said priority should be given to the welfare of captive elephants and elephant conservation should be planned at a landscape level. The efficacy of the Central Zoo Authority to enforce the welfare of captive elephants and elephants in zoos is still in doubt while inadequate finances hamstring the Project Elephant directorate. There is no co-ordination mechanism among railways, ministry of environment and forests and the state forest departments on train hits.